Feeling guilty about not exercising enough?

Prisoner in striped uniform on white

Doing time.

Last Friday I participated in my first ever Twitter chat hosted by Carla Birnberg and Roni Noone. The topic of the chat was the #wycwyc principle: (doing) what you can, when you can.

During the chat there was an interesting discussion about the #wycwyc concept, all or nothing thinking and the feeling of guilt that is often associated with exercise.  I’m occasionally prey to those feelings myself and that’s why the discussion stuck in my memory.

Here are some interesting excerpts from the discussion:


I think the guilt partially comes from the perfectionist notion that if you don’t put your utmost into exercise all the time you’re a slacker.  If you don’t exercise as much as possible, how do you know you’ve done “enough” and therefore can give yourself the exercise-and-guiltpermission to NOT feel guilty?

It can be so confusing.

On the other hand I also agree with Carrie that it is possible to use the #wycwyc principle as an excuse to be a slacker.

kimberlys-tweetI also loved Kimberly’s statement. Knowing that I’m not the only one who suffers from exercise-related guilt makes it somehow less problematic.

The discussion was especially poignant to me because of what took place immediately before the chat.

Friday is my dedicated strength training day but I had repeatedly postponed starting my workout most of the day (I work out at home and the 12 EST is 7PM in Helsinki, Finland), until I told myself that a) I don’t gain anything by postponing the workout and b) I’m committed to strength training regardless of how I feel at the moment.

So I began my training program but soon started feeling increasingly wonky. Finally, after 30 minutes or so I gave myself a permission. After 20 or 30 minutes I realized what was actually ailing me – I was sensitive to bright lights and felt nauseous – I was getting a migraine!

If I hadn’t had such a “good” reason for not sticking to the end of the workout, it’s possible I’d have called myself a slacker.


All in all, even though it’s possible to use the #wycwyc principle as a permission to not exercise – I think I’ve become more aware of the possibilities for exercise during the day so it’s not really a problem for me.

Question: Do you often feel guilty about “not exercising enough”? When is it ok for you to not exercise?


  1. Lori says:

    I sometimes feel guilty not moving enough. Particularly now since I have to take it easy while my back heals. That makes it hard!

    • Satu says:

      I find it especially weird that I may also feel guilty about not exercising if my neck and shoulders are particularly sore.

  2. Deb says:

    Oh yes, I often feel guilty about my lack of exercise and – even being extremely kind to myself – at the moment I have to admit I do nowhere near enough!

    But I get that point – the need to balance the #wycwyc principle with just being lazy or using excuses. Sometimes deep down you know the difference but then our thinking can be so ingrained it’s hard to change it!

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